Chapter III:12: The Criteria for Fundamental Articles

Concerning the Criteria, by which Necessary Articles are distinguished from the non-necessary, our AUTHOR here discourses Negatively and Positively.

. Negatively, Articles are not to be esteemed Necessary, α. From the Universal Consent of all those professing the name Christian: nevertheless, this is maintained by Smalcius[1] in his contra Smiglecium,[2] Hobbes[3] in his book de Cive, Jean Le Clerc[4] in his dissertation de eligenda inter Christianos dissentientes sententia and libro de Incredulitate, concerning which see BUDDEUS’ Isagogen ad Theologiam universam, book II, chapter VII, § 10, tome 2, pages 1390a, 1392b, 1393a; Edward Herbert, Baron of Cherbury,[5] in general, makes universal Consent the sole norm of Truth in things necessary: see WALCH’S[6] Miscellanea Sacra, book I, exercitation VI, § 5, page 148; BUDDEUS’ de Atheismo et Superstitione, chapter I, § 27, page 105. But, 1. Faith, and so the necessity of the Articles of Faith, is to be reckoned, not from the consent of men or sects, but from the Word of God, unless we would wish the faith of the Christian man to depend upon human authority, Romans 10:17, etc. 2. Monsters of men have often taken the Christian name, who hold as Articles of Faith the dreams of the delirious, and the license to establish or to oppose whatever: should the consent of these be required in order to establish what a Fundamental Article is? 3. If this mark is not mistaken, then the Apostles did not hold as Fundamentals, the Advent of Christ in the flesh, the Resurrection of the dead, Justification by faith in Jesus, etc., which, together with other head, had already of old suffered contradiction. 4. Indeed, in this manner hardly any head of the Christian Faith is given that has not suffered contradiction at one time or other. 5. Thus only those Books are to be held as Canonical that were always held as such by all sects of Christians; but almost no Book is given that has not suffered contradiction. 6. This very thing is extremely doubtful: for what would those Articles be that are proven by the consent of all Christians: indeed, how many controverted points does that Hobbesian Article, that Jesus is that Christ that was going to come, involve? compare SPANHEIM’S Disputation X de Articulis Fundamentalibus, § 5-7, opera, tome 3, columns 1331-1334; GISBERT BONNET’S[7] Præfationem before section II, part I, Lelandi de Utilitate et Necessitate Revelationis Christi, pages LVI, LVII, LXVII-LXIX.

β. Nor from Revelation Exhibited in just so many Letters in Sacred Scripture, which formerly was maintained by Mani, Arius, Eutyches, etc.; thus today the Socinians, Ostorodius,